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Quint reports in on Conan O'Brien Can't Stop! SXSW '11!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with another report from SXSW.

South By brought us the premiere of Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, a doc by Rodman Flender following the popular late night host immediately after getting the boot from The Tonight Show. It’s a fairly uncompromised look at O’Brien working through his anger at NBC for renigging on the deal as he gears up for his nation-wide live show.



As part of his rather large severance package he was under contract to not appear on television in any way shape or form for 6 months, so Conan rolled his creative energies into traveling around the country (and even to Canada, eh) with his band, Andy Richter and his core group of writers, assistants and creative collaborators.

I jokingly tweeted that Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is like This Is It, but Conan doesn’t die at the end (spoiler). My poor attempt at humor aside that sums up my initial impression of the movie. O’Brien is an incredibly funny dude, there are huge laughs throughout, but underneath all that is a Puttin’ On A Show feel.

The big surprise is that the doc isn’t at all precious about O’Brien as a subject. Conan acts like a huge dick at times… especially towards Jack McBrayer for some reason. The man comes to visit Conan backstage at one of the shows and O’Brien constantly rips into his hickishness. At first McBrayer plays along, but you can tell after the 14th white-trash joke that it’s kinda getting to him.

It’s odd to see such a candid look at the man as he uses his humor to deal with the rejection he just went through, sometimes making light of the situation, sometimes lashing out at the people around him (literally in the case of one of his writers who constantly gets punched in the arm throughout the doc), including his really cute assistant who comes off like a heroine by the end of the doc. Seriously, afterwards Conan shouted out to her from the stage and when she stood up and took a bow the place went crazy for her.

Before I give the impression that this is just a dark look at the serious side of comedy, I must state emphatically that the movie is laugh at loud funny and consistently so. If there was ever any doubt as to why O’Brien is successful at his job it would be washed away by this portrait of the man behind the hair. In his day to day life his personality that we all know via TV is who he is. His sharp wit and goof-ball energy is present in every frame of the doc, even when he’s at his lowest.

I will not ruin too many of the funnies, but I gotta make mention of one scene that I was shocked to see made it into the doc. Early on O’Brien laughs off some offers for a new show, including one from TBS. He says something to the effect of “TBS? Yeah, why not Animal Planet?” As many of you know, TBS is ultimately where he ended up, but instead of just leaving that on the cutting room floor and playing it safe politically it’s front and center in the doc.

Flow, tone, humor, photography… all really gel together to make a very fun, entertaining flick that might just work for people not Facebook friends with Team CoCo. It’s not surprising to me that both theatrical and home video/VOD rights were both picked up for this flick days after its premiere. It’s a crowd pleaser like nobody’s business and what’s even better is it’s not a blowjob to its subject so there’s not guilt for enjoying what could have easily been a giant fluff piece.

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  • March 15, 2011, 8:18 p.m. CST



    What a racist typo!

  • March 15, 2011, 8:22 p.m. CST


    by Lucky13


  • March 15, 2011, 8:34 p.m. CST

    Wow. Still can't believe that spelling error!

    by mtoast

    And I still can't believe NBC nigged him the first time. Let alone doing it again.

  • March 15, 2011, 8:45 p.m. CST


    by thedarklingthrush


  • March 15, 2011, 8:51 p.m. CST


    by ccchhhrrriiisssm

    Did you hear that? It was Conan's ratings. They are 1/10 of Leno's...and even half of Leno's 18-49 demographic. That was one short-lived cult following!

  • March 15, 2011, 8:55 p.m. CST

    "reneging" is what you were searching for Quint

    by stellanskarsgaard

  • March 15, 2011, 8:58 p.m. CST

    Cable is where talk shows go to DIE

    by TheKiller7

    I saw Conan last few shows and the guy is too bitter to be funny again. Besides, Fallon, Graig, Letterman and Kimmel have better guests.

  • March 15, 2011, 9:19 p.m. CST

    lol just realized

    by thedarklingthrush

    spelling it like that you must type that word a lot/think that's where it originates.

  • March 15, 2011, 9:24 p.m. CST

    I sniggered at the typo

    by StevenScorsese

    yes, it's actually a real word

  • March 15, 2011, 9:42 p.m. CST

    "Laugh at loud funny" Really?

    by ObnoxiousCamper

    Man, Quint, buy a dictionary.

  • March 15, 2011, 9:53 p.m. CST

    Conan forever the "Che" of Late Night era.

    by Onin Solstice

    True. Late night talk show circuit is winding down. But unlike his peers, Coco can adapt with new medai and find his loyal fan base. Leno probably still thinks facebook is an actual book on a shelf somewhere.

  • March 15, 2011, 9:55 p.m. CST

    "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop Growing That Beard"

    by MrMysteryGuest

  • March 15, 2011, 9:57 p.m. CST

    Conan banged his head...suffered a concussion...

    by ccchhhrrriiisssm

    ...and he hasn't been very funny since. His ratings...are...abysmal (except that this is for TBS). The good news is that about 50,000 more people watch Conan than watched Lopez Tonight. Thank you, Teri Hatcher!

  • March 15, 2011, 10:40 p.m. CST

    Anyone who doesn't like Quint....

    by Lucky13

    Is just a damned, dirty renigger.

  • March 15, 2011, 11:57 p.m. CST

    I aint sayin Conan's a golddigger...


    but he aint dancin' with no reniggers!

  • March 16, 2011, 12:09 a.m. CST

    To be fair to the writers of AICN...

    by Mike

    They don't have an edit button if their publishing software is anything like the talkbacks!

  • March 16, 2011, 12:39 a.m. CST

    mr ahole ramirez

    by Jesiah

    Didn't you once say that you were black? I ask because I was wondering if you cared at all about this whole "renigging" typo thing.

  • March 16, 2011, 12:40 a.m. CST

    crispin, nice one

    by Jesiah

    At first I thought it would be a comment on Conan getting like $40 mil to leave tonight show, I smiled when I saw it was a reference to gayfish's song.

  • March 16, 2011, 12:50 a.m. CST

    and just when you think it's over,

    by frank cotton

    for one show only, live, from FHLOSTON PARADISE, it's LOST HIGHWAY, over K-A-L-I radio, on IM frequemcy 6.6.6, hosted by the one and only, frank cotton! welcome back, kids! that was, THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE, MARILYN MANSON, ANTI-CHRIST SUPERSTAR (none taken), SPIN THE BLACK CIRCLE, PEARL JAM, VITALOGY, PUSHIN FORWARD BACK, TEMPLE OF THE DOG, squared, TOO OFFICIAL, QUICKSAND, SLIP, and last, but not least, YOU'RE CRAZY, GUNS N' ROSES, APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION, which has, got to be the, best, album title, bar none, ever. and stand by, frank, 'cause i'll be throwin' titles atcha, all, spur of the moment like, at, any time, k? lot's of ground to, cover tonite, folks. and, since i've had a few, good, days off, and i'm in, no, mood for all that dark, unfun stuff we had last time, we're gonna use, this time, to, clear up a backlog of listener questions. first, of course, are the regular, features. but, before that, seein' as frank has become, somewhat preachy, here, on the show, it's high time he got him some, credentials. and, to that end, i, have applied to join the, CHURCH OF THE SUB-GENIUS (praise BOB; which is, honestly, my actual dad's, actual name. hmm...coincidence, or...), and, as soon as i, get my certificates and, whatnot, i, will be a full-on, card carrying, authenfuckingtific REVEREND! that's right, the one, and, the only, REVEREND, frank cotton! how's THAT grab ya? far-fuckin' out, ain't it? well, sorry if you don't, share my, enthusiasm, maybe you need a, couple o' shots, or somethin'. no, frank, NOT, upside the head, shots o' LIQUOR, you, sap! altho...well, i, think it's slicker 'n snot, and since i, ain't 'catholic' (yes, raised, that way but, gave it up, long ago), i, can STILL GET LAID! well, ya know, i, COULD, still get laid, if, well, i, could at, some, point in time, actually, uh, GET laid. at, all. but, enuf 'a that, not, spoilin' the mood. no way. so, that out the way, tonight's WORD, is EXPOSITION. you'll soon know, why. tonite's THOUGHT, from, the film RAVENOUS, is, 'it’s lonely being a cannibal; tough making friends'. i, can relate and, NO, not literally. and, to finish up, i, RECOMMEND POINT #1, by CHEVELLE. it's way more, harsh, and TOOLish, in, a good way, i, think. we'll be playin' some, shortly, so you'll hear what, i, mean. we have a, new, sponsor for the RAVE this, morning/tonight, /whatever. this, SHOW! please, welcome to the fold, KINETIC AMALGAMATED, or (KA) for you, abbrv.-inclined types. makers of, well, uh, that's CLASSIFIED, so, even tho i, own the company, and, of course, i, do know, what they/we produce, and i, COULD tell you, since, well, it's, my show, and, my planet and, my, universe but, then i'd, uh, have to, say, KILL, EVERY LAST ONE OF YA! because that's, like, the rule for all that, top, classified and, kinda, secret-kinda, like, stuff. so, don't ask! but, what i, will tell ya, tonite is, or, has been, secret, for a long time. even tho, it has, always been, and, now is, technically, kinda, right in front of you, if, you'll just like, take off your, blinders, for a spell. FRANK! jams, man! ready? (DO NOT) STAND IN THE SHADOWS, and DANCING WITH MYSELF, from REBEL YELL, and BILLY frickin' IDOL, by, um, well, do i, hafta, say it again? no. FROM OUT OF NOWHERE, FAITH NO MORE, THE REAL THING, UNCOVERED, SOUNDGARDEN, LOUD LOVE (that's, like, the best kind), and finish this round with, NITRO (YOUTH ENERGY), by (there's no the, here) OFFSPRING, off of, that album, their first, ain't it, frank, that, that other other frank found, in, the closet , when he was, uh, lookin' fer, somethin'. i, don't think any of, us, want to go, there. oh, right, SMASH, was the title, there. we're, going to grab a, quick smoke, and be, right back with, the show, directly.

  • March 16, 2011, 1:05 a.m. CST

    I saw him live - great show.

    by JuanSanchez

    Naked Jim Carrey aside.

  • March 16, 2011, 1:12 a.m. CST

    Dear AICN,


    I would like to offer my services as a copy editor. I'm quite good at it, I assure you, and you guys seem to be sorely lacking in that department. Also, Conan hasn't been very funny in a good 3-4 years, but it's obvious that Quint hasn't seen much of his show if he thinks Conan is actually ripping on Jack McBrayer to be mean. When a camera is around, Conan is in Coco mode - anything for a laugh. He's been making fun of McBrayer on TV for years and years.

  • in a rather unfortunate manner. Glad to see it has bee taken care of. Though of course, the mistake remains unfixed. Keep up the good work, AICN! Merrick here...

  • March 16, 2011, 1:16 a.m. CST

    See, if I were able to edit my posts,

    by Frank Conniff

    I would have changed “bee” to “been.” And that isn’t even racist.

  • March 16, 2011, 1:34 a.m. CST

    I Will Always Remember The Great AICN "Capone: Illiterate Or Racist?" Scandal Of 2011


  • March 16, 2011, 1:35 a.m. CST

    Oops. I meant "Quint". Apologies to Capone!


  • March 16, 2011, 1:57 a.m. CST

    In the film, he compares himself to Anne Frank

    by Man in Suit

    for goodness sakes. Didn't we get enough of Conan's whining in 2010? His late night talk show was going to be moved from 11:30 to 12:00, so he quit! Oh no! Finally a cause that we Americans can rally around! In our vapid culture, Conan is king.

  • March 16, 2011, 9:01 a.m. CST

    Conan O'Brien sold out.......

    by Chopper

    I grew up watching Conan in the 90's. He was on top of his game and better than the others. After I heard he was taking Leno's spot I was disappointed because he was leaving NY and I knew his act was going to be watered down to keep the Leno fans happy. After the whole debacle it kind of dawned on me that maybe he just isn't a mainstream guy but excels at being the backup guy. Nothing wrong with that. Anyway, while he was going through his issues he developed a loyal fanbase of, for lack of better word hipsters. Hipsters are the most useless people on the planet and devoid of any humor. I sorry abusing sarcasm and irony is not humor. Anyway he sold out and appeased these followers even going as far as growing and keeping a beard, the staple of hipsters. The whole "Team Coco" thing was retarded because real fans never once uttered Coco. That was manufactured by the hipsters to be hip and to sell shirts. I refuse now to support him in any fashion on TBS for his appeasement of these retarded hipsters and the fact that he is way too bitter to be funny anymore. No need to feel bad for the man, he's rich and he had his shot at his dream which he failed at. Before any accusations come I don't like Leno either or any of the late guys for that matter. I feel the whole idea of late night talk tv is outdated anyway.

  • March 16, 2011, 9:42 a.m. CST

    I would expect to see "renigging" in the talkbacks, but jeez...

    by BadMrWonka

    are jew serious, Quint?

  • March 16, 2011, 9:46 a.m. CST

    mr ahole ramirez

    by BadMrWonka

    "sniggering" is actually a real word, buddy.

  • ....after they supposedly sell out is the "hipster" way of life. Hipsters only like things before they get big and reach the mainstream. Time to do some soul searching.

  • March 16, 2011, 10:15 a.m. CST

    i, only had, like, ONE typo...

    by frank cotton

    HIRE ME!

  • March 16, 2011, 12:26 p.m. CST

    Renigged? Seriously?

    by V'Shael

    That gets a pass? Do the AICN team live in a world without spell checkers? Or do they just not care about nigg words in Texas?

  • March 16, 2011, 12:27 p.m. CST

    I'm mildly interested

    by Inadequate Sandwich

    Honestly, his last few weeks on Tonight after he knew he was losing the show and didn't care about winning the mainstream anymore and the live tour is some of the best stuff the Conan has done in years. He went soft around 2004ish or so when it was announced he'd take over for Jay, letting his weird humor dwindle away and becoming much more bland than he had been. So I'd love to see the behind the scenes of that tour and it's formation if only to get to watch the re-birth of sorts of the more quirky, weird Conan humor that was present in the tour.

  • March 16, 2011, 1:11 p.m. CST


    by Lucky13

    As much as I love the 'renigged' comment, and I actually chuckle to myself every time it passes thru my mind while I'm away from the computer... I have to believe that Quint either one his own, or thru orders by the Fatness himself, purposefully wrote it as 'renigged' just so we'd have something enjoyable to discuss in an otherwise slow, SLOW, AICN period.

  • March 16, 2011, 1:17 p.m. CST

    I'm sniggering at you right now, Mr Ramirez.

    by Lucky13

  • March 16, 2011, 1:20 p.m. CST

    I'd like to renig that last comment...

    by Lucky13

    I'm sniggering WITH you, not "at" you.

  • March 16, 2011, 3:06 p.m. CST


    by Snuggle_Bunny

    Quint should be raped by a back of reniggers for that typo.

  • March 16, 2011, 3:51 p.m. CST


    by Chopper

    I offer you an easy challenge. Log on to facebook and "like" team coco. Tell me the average demographic of the people who "like" it. Newsflash, Conan isn't popular and mainstream regardless, especially now that he's on TBS. He's the perfect hipster host.

  • March 16, 2011, 5:36 p.m. CST

    I love you too, Ramirez.

    by Lucky13

    The next person to snigger at you is a dead man. Unless of course, they renig... then we'll have to forgive the silly little renigger. .... And thank you, Quint... for serving up this awesome dose of humor for us. Now please... get back to AMAD!!! Or at least, A Couple Movies A Week. It's the only interesting bit of content on this site that isn't talkback.

  • March 16, 2011, 6:15 p.m. CST

    mr ahole ramirez

    by BadMrWonka

    you lost me like 3 different ways on that post, kiddo. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree about you making sense.

  • March 16, 2011, 6:44 p.m. CST

    Someone is acting rather niggardly,

    by The_McBain

    about the usage of the word "sniggered."

  • And "NO", CNN I don't want my morning cup of Conan!